ore than 90 high schools across the 24-county region compete in more than a dozen sports on a varsity level each year. Most compete under the guidelines of the Missouri State High School Activities Association, and others under the sanction of the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association.
Southeast Missouri schools and athletes have won hundreds of state championships in a variety of athletic competitions, including baseball, basketball, cheerleading, football, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball and wrestling since high school sports first began locally more than 120 years ago.
Much of the historical high school information on this site was gathered by Al Jackson, a longtime Southeast Missouri high school sports advocate and historian whose hard work allows us to share the great teams, athletes and stories of past years. Al died in 2018, and we dedicate these pages to him.
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Puxico's 1957-58 team continued the program's success with a trip to the postseason, the school's seventh in 11 seasons. Front row: ball boy Gary Kitchens, Harold Holigan Jr., Barry Scott, Vivan Reed, Bob Jennings; back row: manager Marvin Johnston, Urah Vardell, John Miller, Jerry Cookson, Don Johnston, Wendell Clinton, coach Elmer "Doc" Dunn.
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Puxico High School, home of the Indians, is located in Stoddard County. Its boys basketball program was one of the most storied high school programs in the nation for several years. First-time coach Arnold Ryan, hired at Puxico with no coaching experienced, coached the boys basketball team from 1944 to 1953 (and again for one season a few years later), and his team went 149-10 over one stretch.
The team began to reach its peak in 1950, when the Indians went 40-0, scored at least 100 points in 13 games, and averaged 89 points per game unmatched at the time in high school basketball. All five starters of that team went on to play for major-college programs, and two were All-Americans. Win Wilfong went on to play for Missouri and Memphis State, then pro with the St. Louis Hawks; Grady Smith also went pro, and Forest Arnold turned down a pro contract to join the ministry.
Ryan is widely credited with creating the fast-break offense, which led to the Indians being known as the "Run-Shoot-Run Indians" at the time. His style often consisted of the fast-break offense and pressure defense, and usually featured very few set plays. Critics said the Indians' "sneak play" in which a player would race down the court after a free throw and score an easy basket was cheating. Ryan was also criticized regularly for never slowing down the pace in blowout wins and was frequently accused of running up scores. But among Puxico fans, the style of play became so popular that some of the team's biggest rivalries were moved out of Puxico's small log gym to venues in Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau to accommodate larger crowds.
One of the few teams to successfully slow the pace against Puxico in its run-and-gun era was Waynesville, which played Puxico in the 1951 state championship game at Houck Field House. Puxico won 42-38.
Eight of the 12 players on the 1951 Puxico team became coaches or players, including Carroll Cookson, who credited Arnold Ryan's style of play for his Advance team's success and two state titles. Gene Bess often was a fan watching Puxico games, and Norm Stewart was a player on the Shelbyville team that lost its state championship game to Puxico in 1953.
In 1956, three of the five starting players at Memphis State were from Puxico. Ryan coached the Puxico team for nine seasons, then left for a position with Memphis State; he returned for one season at Puxico, then coached two more seasons at Manila, Ark. At Puxico, Ryan finished with a record of 299-43.
Ryan, who also coached volleyball and baseball, later coached teams at Woodland, Lilbourn, and Charleston. In May 1971, Ryan was killed while coaching baseball; he was struck in the back of the head by an errant throw, and he died from those injuries.
Ryan and his Puxico team are the subjects of the 1994 book "My Name is Mister Ryan" by Matt Chaney.
2019-20 | 8-16 | Jim Jones
2018-19 | 5-18 | Ronnal Clinton
2017-18 | 15-12 | Nathan Martin
2016-17 | 9-14 | Nathan Martin
2015-16 | 7-16 | Nathan Walk
2014-15 | 13-12 | Nathan Walk
2013-14 | 15-11 | John Walker
2012-13 | 12-11 | John Walker
2011-12 | 15-10 | Tim Smith
2010-11 | 5-17 | Tim Smith
2009-10 | 4-20 | Marc Crane
2008-09 | 6-16 | Marc Crane
2007-08 | 16-10 | Josh Dowdy
2006-07 | 24-6 | Chad Allen | Lost 53-40 (OT) to Eskridge in C2 sectional
2005-06 | 18-10 | Chad Allen
2004-05 | 17-10 | Chad Allen
2003-04 | 6-16 | Chad Allen
2002-03 | 6-18 | Terry Tomlinson
2001-02 | 11-14 | Chuck Powers
2000-01 | 13-12 | Chuck Powers
1999-00 | 7-15 | Chuck Powers
1998-99 | 15-13 | Steve Wells
1997-98 | 12-12 | Steve Wells
1996-97 | 8-16 | Steve Wells
1995-96 | 4-18 | Steve Wells
1994-95 | 10-14 | Jim Davis
1993-94 | 8-15 | Jim Davis
1992-93 | 11-14 | Greg Hamm
1991-92 | 12-11 | Pete Townsend
1990-91 | 9-14 | Pete Townsend
1989-90 | 26-4 | Pete Townsend | Lost 69-65 to Portageville in 2A sectional
1988-89 | 14-11 | Doc Dunn
1987-88 | 11-14 | Doc Dunn
1986-87 | 5-16 | Doc Dunn
1985-86 | 13-12 | Pete Townsend
1984-85 | 17-8 | Steve Cookson
1983-84 | 22-5 | Steve Cookson
1982-83 | 12-11 | Steve Cookson
1981-82 | 4-16 | George Wilson
1980-81 | 3-19 | Jim Denbow
1979-80 | 17-11 | Carroll Cookson
1978-79 | 23-7 | Pete Townsend
1977-78 | 13-10 | Pete Townsend
1976-77 | 13-11 | Pete Townsend
1975-76 | 9-13 | Pete Townsend
1974-75 | 20-8 | Pete Townsend
1973-74 | 22-7 | Pete Townsend
1972-73 | 21-7 | John Sheehy
1971-72 | 17-10 | John Sheehy
1970-71 | 9-12 | Gene Wilfong
1969-70 | 10-13 | Gene Wilfong
1968-69 | 19-11 | Gene Wilfong
1967-68 | 11-13 | Gene Wilfong
1966-67 | 10-14 | Gene Wilfong
1965-66 | 25-7 | Grady Smith
1964-65 | 20-8 | Grady Smith
1963-64 | 6-17 | Grady Smith
1962-63 | 10-13 | Grady Smith
1961-62 | 15-7 | Doyle Mabry
1960-61 | 22-7 | Doyle Mabry
1959-60 | 20-5 | Doc Dunn
1958-59 | 16-9 | Doc Dunn | District champion
1957-58 | 32-2 | Doc Dunn | District champion
1956-57 | 26-7 | Arnold Ryan
1955-56 | 28-8 | Oral Batterton | District champion
1954-55 | 20-6 | Oral Batterton
1953-54 | 26-6 | Oral Batterton
1952-53 | 36-5 | Arnold Ryan | Lost 73-65 to John Burroughs in Class B championship
1951-52 | 39-2 | Arnold Ryan | Defeated Shelbyville 85-37 in Class B championship; first time a Missouri state championship team scored more than 60 points
1950-51 | 40-0 | Arnold Ryan | Defeated Waynesville 42-38 in Class B championship; the team was believed to be the highest-scoring high school team in the nation this season. Wins included 148-16 over Greenville in a playoff game; Win Wilfong scored 54 points in the first half.
1949-50 | 34-3 | Arnold Ryan | Defeated Windsor 51-44 in Class B third-place game
1948-49 | 30-5 | Arnold Ryan
1947-48 | 35-3 | Arnold Ryan | District champion
1946-47 | 22-7 | Arnold Ryan
1945-46 | 17-6 | Arnold Ryan
1944-45 | 20-5 | Arnold Ryan
1943-44 | 5-13 | Myron Smith
1942-43 | 7-14 | Myron Smith
1941-42 | 12-9 | Bennie Henson
1940-41 | 17-6 | Bennie Henson
1939-40 | 8-10 | Orville Pone
1938-39 | 4-15 | Orville Pone
1937-38 | 3-12 | Orville Pone
1936-37 | 5-12 | Tom Lewis
1935-36 | 6-11 | Tom Lewis
1934-35 | 4-14 | Orville Pone
1933-34 | 2-16 | Orville Pone
1932-33 | 7-12 | Arthur Norman
1931-32 | 6-9 | Arthur Norman
1930-31 | 5-12 | Albert Cleman
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